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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Newcomers stand out in Red-White Game

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Dasan McCullough and Rondell Bothroyd showed in the spring game they’re ready to contribute on OU’s defense.


Another Red-White Game has come and gone for the Oklahoma Sooners. Honoring Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray at halftime served as the highlight of the day, which speaks to the atmosphere on the field. But, hey, it’s a spring game.

Given that it was our last look at the squad before OU gets back to live action in the fall, let’s overreact a little.

*Top headline: The Sooners appeared to escape the game without any injuries of note. That’s a win.

*OU’s more notable personnel additions from the offseason made their debut in crimson and cream. Some showed flashes of promise throughout the game. Chief among the standouts were Indiana transfer Dasan McCullough and Wake Forest transfer Rondell Bothroyd. If Saturday’s action is any indication, they look like surefire starters on defense in 2023.

The talk about McCullough from the spring has focused on the difficulties of picking up the Cheetah position, a hybrid safety-linebacker in coach Brent Venables’ defensive scheme. He may not play the position in a typical fashion, but it appears as though McCullough can still make an impact in numerous ways. He was the most active player on the defense Saturday and displayed even better range on the field than expected.

Bothroyd didn’t have as many chances for highlight plays, but he disrupted the flow of the offense more so than any other player. At his size, OU can probably use him as both a five-tech defensive end and a pass-rushing defensive tackle. It doesn’t look as though the Sooners have any other players in the trenches right now who can match Bothroyd’s versatility.

*Of course, Bothroyd’s performance raises concerns about the state of the offensive line. OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh is rebuilding the unit following some key departures from 2022. It showed, especially when the backups got in on the action. The defensive line snuffed out numerous plays before they even got started.

Bottom line: Lots of work to do here.

*Physically, Peyton Bowen absolutely looks the part of a five-star safety. His interception of a Dillon Gabriel bomb in the first quarter will go down on the stat sheet as his most memorable play, but his support against the run and striking ability suggest he could turn into an asset at a position like Cheetah.

*Overall, the play behind center left something to be desired. Gabriel threw a handful of balls that sailed on his intended targets. Freshman Jackson Arnold, meanwhile, played under duress the entire game as the second-string OL got worked over in the trenches. Arnold’s 30-yard touchdown throw to Gavin Freeman on the game’s final possession did look like the stuff of five-star QBs, though.

*It’s tough to say what the breakdown of touches will look like in the OU backfield. Gavin Sawchuck, however, certainly appeared comfortable in the role of lead running back. He’s a smooth runner, and it looks as though he has something to offer in the passing game.

Don’t let it come as a surprise if he ends up as the team’s leader in total yards this year.

*Nothing (good) jumped out about the receiving corps. This seems like one position group where some players may opt to transfer in the coming weeks.